The states of New Jersey and Delaware will be ending the mask mandates in schools, signalling a return to normalcy following almost two years of restrictions.
On Monday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced a timeline to end the state's school mask mandate, which will be lifted in early March. Murphy first shared his intentions to the New York Times, where he explained that he planned to hold an afternoon coronavirus briefing on Monday.
“Effective March 7, the statewide mask mandate in schools will be lifted,” he wrote on social media. “Balancing public health with getting back to some semblance of normalcy is not easy. But we can responsibly take this step due to declining COVID numbers and growth in vaccinations.”
Murphy’s move was followed by Delaware Gov. John Carney, who announced that the state’s universal indoor mask mandate will end on February 11, following which the school mask mandates will be on March 31.
“We're in a much better place than we were several weeks ago in the middle of the Omicron surge of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations,” Carney said, per ABC.
“I want to be clear about this point — COVID is still circulating in our communities. And the virus still poses a risk of serious illness, particularly among those who are not up to date on their vaccinations," he added. "But we have the tools to keep ourselves and each other safe.”
The move to end school mask mandates reflects the public's growing discontent with the masks and the politics surrounding them, which has boiled over in recent days after multiple high-profile Democrat politicians, including Stacey Abrams, were spotted maskless among groups of children. California Gov. Gavin Newsom was also photographed maskless at a sporting event where masks were mandated for other spectators.
Conservative governors led by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin have opposed school mask mandates, which was a pivotal point during Youngkin’s successful 2021 campaign.
Immediately upon taking office, Youngkin imposed a ban on mask mandates through an executive order, which has since been placed on hold by a judge due to lawsuits from schools insistent on forcing kids to wear masks.
Other states led by Republican leaders refused to institute school mask mandates or have rescinded them for many months, and evidence from Britain suggests that the effectiveness of masks is “not conclusive” with no “statistically significant impact,” Rebel News reported.